Indian paintings portray a centuries old rich history and have evolved into a slew of enchanting styles to depict the mind and heart of creative Indians.
The Indian artisans of earlier age expressed the feelings of their heart on the walls of caves, temples and homes. Created on long lasting materials, these mural paintings superbly exemplify the rich history of Indian paintings.
The cave paintings of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh) are around 100,000 years old. Ajanta (2nd century BCE ), Ellora (5th to 10th century), Mahadeo hills (Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh- 500-800 AD) cave wall paintings even now also leave the onlookers amazed. When it comes to temple wall paintings, the South Indian Pallava and Chola temples held a high glory and make the time of 4th to 6th centuries golden period of Indian panting.
When it comes to home wall paintings, Madhubani paintings top the list. Delighted women of Mithila originated these Indian paintings on their home-walls for embellishment during Sita Rama wedding as per the order of king Janka. If we peep into ancient Indian texts, great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata also mention the halls decorated with paintings. Paintings also find mention in Vishakhadatta’s Mudrarakshasa (4th century). Vatsyayana has mentioned 6 limbs (Sadanga ) of Indian Paintings in Kamasutra (3rd century A.D)
But, on the contrary, miniature paintings are done on short-lived materials like leaf, cloth and paper. The earliest found Indian miniature paintings were created during the reign of Pala kings of Bengal (9th to 15th century) and include palm leaves paintings and manuscripts covers paintings. Palm leaf paintings also called “Taadpatra” of 10th to 12th century are found in the Hindu, Buddha and Jain manuscripts. Orissa pattachitra paintings were started in 8th century AD for worshiping Lord Jagannatha in Puri temple during the absence of wooden images. These are done on cloth using natural colors.
In Visnudharmottara Purana, Study of Manasollasa (Abhilasitarthacintamani) of Chalukya Emperor Somesvara III (12th century), Sivatatvaratnakara (17th century) , the objectives & principles of painting, methods of colors and brushes preparation, qualifications of painters are clearly described.
Mysore paintings were originated during the reign of Vijayanagar Kings (1336 to1565 AD). Currently, these paintings are influenced by the Sritattvanidhi, written by Maharaja of Mysore in 19th century. Tanjore paintings are one of the best classical South India paintings, which were originated in early 9th century during Chola rule and evolved in 16th century by Maratha emperor to elaborate the princess. These are done using pure gold foil and precious Jaipur stone.
Mughal paintings developed during Mughal Empire (16th-19th centuries) and reflect the amazing blend of Indian, Persian & Islamic styles. Rajput paintings or Rajasthani Paintings started in last decades of 16th Century and evolved during 18th century in various Rajput art schools in Amber, Bikaner, Marwar, Mewar, Kishangarh, Pratapgarh, Kota, Bundi, Nathdwara etc. Pichwai paintings were originated in Nathdwara temple to decorate the walls of temples, behind the idol of Shrinathji. Phad Paintings, also known as cloth scroll-paintings are made on long piece of cloth called “Phad” in Bhilwara district and portray Rajasthani folk deities like Pabuji and Devnarayan. Pahari painting were evolved during 17th-19th century under the patronization of Rajput kings ruling Himalayan Hill kingdoms.
Kalamkari painting was originated nearly 1000 BC in Machlipatnam (Andhra Pradesh) as back-cloth for temple shrines. It’s done on dying cotton and silk cloth with a pointed bamboo or palm stick. This is now also performed in Srikalahasti (Chittoor district). Warli paintings were originated between 2,500 to 3,000 BC by Maharashtrian tribe Warli.
The Bengal School of Art developed during 20th century British rule and reflected the feelings of Indian nationalism. Modern Indian paintings are impacted by the western, progressive and other ideas.